Starting a new business in the cannabis industry can be challenging…from filing required government forms to (barely) opening a business bank account, the road to canna-business is a newly paved one in Arkansas. In some areas, it may still be a red dirt road.
It started several years ago with a dream of living in a medical cannabis state and building some kind of business in the industry that fuels my passion. Yet as caring for my aging parents became my full-time focus it seemed the dream was left in the background, leaving my home state and the advocacy groups I had worked with. Then suddenly I found myself in the perfect position to make my vision a reality.
I began by getting my Arkansas Medical Marijuana ID Card, realizing that I needed to be a patient for my own health as well as to be better able to help my customers navigate the system. Meanwhile, I read everything I could find on the Arkansas Medical Marijuana Amendment and the state government pages about starting a business in Arkansas. The Small Business Administration website is very helpful as well.
So I filed registration papers with the Arkansas Secretary of State; the online process and customer service is excellent! Applied for and received the Federal Tax ID number and tried to apply for a State Sales Tax and Use permit only to find that the services are not taxable.
Next, I go to my local bank where I have my personal checking account and ask to open a business checking account. When the account representative asked about the type of business and I mentioned cannabis, we had a little ado for a minute while she had to call the corporate office and get approval. They said to fill out a form and they would get back to me within 10 days with a response. Ok, no problem, so I go to leave and before I exit the parking lot the corporate people call me…the most important question was if we would be handling marijuana directly – the answer was no, so he said the account was approved!
At this point I contact my insurance agent for information on whether I need commercial auto insurance to provide rides to the cannabis dispensaries and doctors – yes, they said, and that was “not a direction we want to go” at Allstate Commercial. Ok then, I asked my agent if Allstate would still cover me on the way to the dispensary as a patient, with a smiley. She assured me this was the case with another smiley and referred me to a local independent agent who might be able to help.
The poor man was almost embarrassed to give me the quote, after he got 6 declines and 3 offers, and the lowest exceeded my budget by about 90%. So, this pointed me in a different direction and required some reconfiguration in my brain and on the website that I’m building to launch Country Roads Care LLC.
Even with the help of a website builder program like SquareSpace, which is awesome, there is a lot to learn if you have never built a website before. Currently working with Stripe, the payment processing people, to see if their guidelines will allow our cannabis-related business to use VISA/MASTERCARD payments on the site…word on that later.
It’s fun and frightening and interesting and frustrating and invigorating and exhausting all at the same time trying to birth this baby called Country Roads Care LLC – just thought that I would share a little about my experience for those of you out there who also have a dream of starting your own canna-business.
CountryRoadsCareLLC.com will provide a platform for patients, caregivers, and support businesses to share and disseminate information in this new frontier. From the Resources Page to the Community Forum (Blog) to the MarketPlace, the site will have something for everyone.
I’m looking forward to all of the awesome things we can do together in the spirit of the cannabis plant!